How To Offer Managed Technology To Businesses In More Meaningful Ways

One Tuesday morning in October (several years ago) our Managed Services company got a hit on an email marketing campaign that we had sent out. I remember this distinctly, because it was one of the biggest leads that we had ever gotten. After a long courtship and many hours of discovery, technical research and quoting, we finally were able to present a contract for over $250,000 per year in revenue which would have been one of our largest customers at the time.

After a few follow ups, we were politely told that we didn’t win the deal. When we asked if the quote was too expensive, the prospect laughed and said “no, you were actually the cheapest one.” We couldn’t understand this at the time, because the technical requirements were not overly complicated and we thought that we were being respectfully conservative in our quote. We thought that if we could offer the same technology as everyone else at the fairest rate, it would be a no-brainer that the prospect would go with us.

In reality, we were so focused on getting the technology right, that we never took the time to learn if it was the right solution for them. In short, we were asking technical questions, when we should have been asking business questions. The company that did win the deal (for almost double our rate) was able to offer a “solution” to the company’s problems in way that made the prospect more comfortable with the risk they were taking. They exposed us for what we were at the time; a group of “IT people” just trying to sell IT.

I recently talked about a similar situation with George Bardissi of BVoIP, as he pointed out some of the key components of selling communication as a solution instead of a tool:

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Here are a few key areas of distinction that can help you differentiate your overall solution from the technology that it consists of (put in terms that business owners truly care about):

Customer Satisfaction

Every business has customers and their satisfaction is what pays the bills. You can have the best tech in the world, but if this degrades the overall customer satisfaction as a result, than you are probably not looking out for the long term health of the business. It is for this reason that you should always consider, what effect does this technology tool that I am implementing have on the customer?

I recently had a similar issue as we upgraded our own internal DNS security here at MSPGH. This “improvement” unfortunately set off a chain of events that led to a large amount of emails that came from our subscribers to go to spam rather than my inbox. When I finally discovered this issue, I had to spend quite some time doing damage control with frustrated customers that thought they were being neglected or ignored. This proved yet again, that what we implemented was a great “tool” but it was not the right overall solution for what we needed. We ended up having to scale back the security and reconfigure a few things on the email side to make sure that we had the right balance.

Business Intelligence

As a seller of technology products and services, you understand the nuances of “smart” technology. When a piece of your kit has more granular controls, it can be better molded to the businesses that you are deploying it for. With more control, often comes more insight, leading to more clarity into what is “actually happening” versus what someone may “think is happening.” George offers a great example of this in our conversation as he discusses the call times and routing in a customer support department.

Using the example of a phone system, this tool can truly be used to implement more business intelligence across an organization with the right solution. Tracking customer support calls, sales leads, and outbound communication can tell you a lot about the time you spend on each of these tasks and how the overall processes can be improved. For example, smarter routing of customer support calls can decrease call times, leading to happier customers and fewer resource hours needed. Instead of offering this system as a way to make calls, you could realistically offer it as a platform to streamline how the company communicates and implement this solution in a consultative way.

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Growth / Profitability

When talking with MSP clients and attempting to explain marketing concepts, I often use analogies of things that I am working on in my own business. Every once in awhile I will get push-back as they will say “yes, but it is a lot easier to sell marketing services than it is IT services.” This is very much true, but the reason why it is true is what is important. Marketing is an easy sell, because it is directly tied to business growth. When a company markets more, it gets more leads, some of those lead to sales, and revenue grows as a result. This is not something that needs to be explained and is largely just assumed information.

When it comes to IT, this link to growth is not so obvious, even though it is a very real concept. Improving the way a company does business, how well it satisfies customers, and how it can make more intelligent decisions will ultimately lead to revenue growth and/or more profit. These are all things that business technology (and even security) can ultimately achieve. For example, I get the same coupon in the mail from a pizza place down the street from my house almost weekly, yet despite their marketing attempt (and cheaper prices), I do not order from there. Instead, I typically order from another location that has a better website which allows me to schedule my deliveries in advance. This pizzeria has never attempted to get my business through traditional advertising, but they made the decision to leverage technology that improves customer experience, ultimately winning my business in the process.

Overall, we need to stop thinking of this lengthy list of products and services as tools in a toolbox. This is what drives down rates and increases competition amongst providers. Instead, we should simply be tackling specific business problems and creating balanced solutions to fix them. Whether or not you can fit this into the traditional Managed Services model is to be determined, but you can be assured that it will lead to more “win/win” relationships in the long run.